Amazon’s KDP Select: Is It Worthwhile for Authors?

Amazon’s KDP Select is a service that I get asked about on a regular basis so I felt it appropriate to write a post to help clear up a lot of the turmoil surrounding it. First of all, I feel compelled to point out that the KDP Select Program is just as the name implies. It’s a program – a tool – and should be treated as such. KDP Select is not a guarantee nor should it be used as a long-term strategy.

Is it good or bad?

Neither. Both. There is no definitive answer to this question. KDP Select is more of a tool than anything else and like all tools, its effectiveness is only as dependable as the person using it. It could be the catalyst needed to grab hold of a ton of new readers to increase your sales. Let’s start off by describing exactly what KDP Select is before we go any further.

KDP Select is an agreement where Amazon gives authors the ability to:

1A. Give their book away for free up to a total of five days during a 90 day period.


1B. Include their book in an exclusive program called Kindle Countdown where they are able to lower the price of their book while having it exclusively listed on Amazon’s Kindle Countdown website.

(Authors can only choose one of the above options per 90 day period. For example, if you give your book away for free then you are not eligible for the Countdown promotion.)

2. Amazon Prime members are able to freely download one book every month. Amazon distributes a percentage of a monthly fund to authors whose books are downloaded by Prime members.

3. Subscribers of Amazon Unlimited are able to freely read all books that are in KDP Select. Any books that are read past 10% will receive funds from the monthly allocated fund.

However, there is a catch. Amazon requires the digital edition books that are enrolled in KDP Select to be available exclusively through Amazon. This only applies to the digital version of the book so KDP Select does not affect print versions. For many people, that is a deal breaker. However, don’t be so quick to jump the gun. Those three options will give your book a ton of promotional capability.

It all boils down to whether you are selling a significant number of books from other venues besides Kindle. If you are, the logic would suggest that you should not limit your book to Kindle alone. However, if you are new to the market then KDP Select is a great way to build an audience.

If you have more than one book, then you might rotate them through KDP Select so that you can actually use your KDP Select book to promote all other books that you have published. This is done by including a list of all your books at the beginning and end of every book that you publish. Most readers who enjoy an author will be willing to purchase other books from that same author. Furthermore, using KDP Select to give away books for free can lead to more reviews.

Therefore, I normally recommend this program for newer authors or those who are struggling with sales since it opens up so many possibilities.

KDP Select should be used to build a presence.

Once that happens, then it becomes a matter of income. Will you lose money when readers use their Prime or Unlimited subscriptions to read your books? From personal experience, I have seen the average price of books downloaded from KDP Select to be right at the $2 per download mark. That’s close to what you would make from selling a book at $2.99. So to answer the question, if you are selling your book for more than $2.99 then you are losing money when compared to a normal sale. However, would that reader have purchased your book in the first place? Probably not. The trend seems to be that unknown authors lend more books while established authors sell more books.

Why Would I Give my Book Away for Free?

When Select first began, free downloads counted as a sale when ranking a book. So an author could really boost their ranking by giving away their book. However, that is no longer the case. Unless you can get thousands of people to download your free book, its rankings will not see any significant boost from the free promotion. However, the exposure itself might be enough to kick-start your book’s success. Plus more readers will have your book so if they enjoy it, then that alone could lead to future sales.

The bottom line is that I recommend KDP Select for those who fall into one of the following categories:

  • Established authors looking to kick-start a book that might be experiencing a sales lag.
  • Authors who are releasing a book that is part of a series. If you want to bring in new readers quickly, then KDP Select is a great way to accomplish this.

New authors who are looking to grow a base of readers.

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